Perales said first became interested in journalism in high school but was also involved in photography and other types of media production. She intended to major in photography or graphic design, but picked journalism because it allowed her to incorporate those other skills.
"I'm really glad I stuck with journalism because it's a career that allows me to implement my photography and other media skills along with writing," she said. "At the Observer I have been a writer, photographer, videographer, and social networker, managing our Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts, as well as managing our Web site."
Perales graduated in 2007 with a degree in journalism. She also gained crucial experience outside the classroom, working at the Lanthorn, where she was a writer, copy editor, news editor and editor in chief.
"Some of my most memorable moments from Grand Valley were the many long days and nights I spent at the Lanthorn, with my fellow journalism and writing classmates," Perales said. "Nearly every experience I had there has helped further my career. My time at the Lanthorn really helped prepare me as a professional for the role that I'm playing now at the Observer."
Perales rose quickly at The Observer, where she started in January 2008 as a general assignment reporter covering community of Reston, Va. Perales soon took on the additional responsibility of covering Herndon and for planning the newspaper's coverage each week.
"Leslie has shown a great ability to understand how important local news is to our readership," said Observer Publisher Christopher L. Moore. "She is passionate about journalism, and compassionate about the people we serve.”